After winning the Italy Divide, Mattia did an Instagram story in which everyone could take advantage of the opportunity and ask him a question. Clearly, he was tired enough to answer everyone in private and he forgot to post the answers on his stories.

We forgive him for this and after a quick chat, we are ready to report here all the matters people have shown the greatest interest in, as well as some of his personal thoughts after making it to the finish line.

Emptying the pockets and more on Italy Divide

Hey Mattia, which question have you heard the most?

“Several people asked me how you manage resting and sleeping while riding long events as such. I believe that an answer working properly for every person doesn’t exist: a good understanding of your own body and always keeping an eye on it is key and therefore you are the only one knowing what’s the best solution for you. Some people prefer pedaling non-stop until they are completely cooked, some would go for several micro-sleeps, some others would sleep for a good half an hour here and there and of course there are still people who haven’t a precise plan and will rest without rushing.”

“I personally prefer to follow a plan I line up before the start, although I’m fully aware that things can’t go as planned at any time. With some experience and after many mistakes, I came to the understanding that my body is capable of handling the first night without sleeping but after that, to restore a bit and get back some energy, it needs at least 3 hours of sleep. 

At the Italy Divide, I used this strategy: first night non-stop, second and third nights 3 hours each. What I try to do, whenever conditions are favorable, is resting in a comfortable bed, protected from the elements. In Italy it’s most of the time easy, but there are some exceptions. In this case I slept in two farmhouses where I was able to eat, sleep and recharge my electronics without any issues. If you can take advantage every minute of your stop to rest you will save a lot of time throughout the day.” 

From Mattia’s race flow graphic you can see Mattia did two big stops – the two horizontal lines when he slept. Johan, arrived second, applied a different strategy and you can see from his graph without big interruptions that he preferred to do microsleeps. Manuel, making  it third, did a mix of the two.

Tell us something about your gear of choice.

“I received a lot of questions on this topic. Let’s divide it into categories and hopefully answer with an order.


In my bags there was: a down jacket (never used), a wool long sleeve shirt (never used), a vest, a rain jacket, a neckwarmer, a pair of winter gloves. I won’t tell you what is essential and what you must leave home; on this matter too, you’ll be able to learn from experience what’s best for you. If you have something that makes you feel comfortable and you can’t afford to leave behind, just take it with you. Personally, I cannot leave home my down jacket and a wool baselayer: I know they would take me out of colder situations and this certainty gives me peace of mind most of the time. 

And then of course I didn’t start the competition naked: I wore my Enough cycling kit by Sportful: Supergiara bibs and jersey. 

My shoes of choice were the Fizik Terra X2 Ergolace: a great compromise between stiffness and comfort on the portage sections. To top up my outfit I had my Albaoptics Solo with photochromic lenses, so I was able to keep them on at night too. 

Camping gear: I had with me just my bivvy. This piece of gear is one of those I found essential. In case you are in an exposed environment and the weather goes bad, a bivvy can save your ass and keep you somehow dry. You get inside it with your down jacket and you can resist a good bit. 

Tools and Spares: I had with me two inner tubes, a mini pump, super glue, a piece of tire, quick links, multitool, tube’s patches, and tubeless repair kit. I will never leave home without some electrical tape: with some tape you can fix basically everything, a handlebar too!

Electronics: Headlight, Exposure bike light, Garmin 1030 plus with its external bathery, Garmin inReach and two power banks (a 5000mAh and a 20000mAh). The Garmin 1030 Plus has an outstanding battery life and with its external upgrade attached to it after 84 hours it has still 70% left: I used it on battery saving mode and the screen was turning on only when there was a turn or when off-track.

And then they asked you about food, right?

Yes. Here I’ve learned by doing it quite wrong at first. I arrived in Florence way too hungry for lunch, I ate like a pig and what happened next? In a crazy hot sun around 1:00 pm I had a huge crisis and I was struggling to keep going. Too much food, all the blood on the stomach and nothing left for the legs, my heart lethargic. It was so fucking annoying! But from this experience

I’ve learned that during the hottest hours of the day it’s better to eat less and keep it light, while at night, before going to sleep I can handle a bigger quantity of food and calories intake. Which means something like two pizzas. As always listen to your body, it will tell you what’s best for you. This is the secret to perform well in this type of adventure.

Alright, but beyond all this, how did it go?

Adventures like the Italy Divide, to be fully digested, need a few days. Putting all the pieces together. When I think about it, I realize that I crossed Italy in 84 hours on my bike, through unconventional roads and paths, without doing any highway or main road. Those hours have been so intense and my eyes have seen so many things that I need a lot of time to process everything. The day after crossing the finish line you realize that you’ve been around for three days, but what’s true is that on your skin they feel way more than that. Only the ones that have tried an adventure like this one can truly understand these feelings and how vivid is the impression those places have on you. 

Fatigue is among the main ingredients because it puts everything in a different perspective. You are not being a tourist and you cross all those environments with an all different mood. Some fatigue makes everything more interesting and makes you so much more aware of your surroundings. Because what you’ve seen you have conquered it pedal stroke after pedal stroke.